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News & Musings


Adaptation, Resilience & the Love of Water

With the advent of Coronavirus, life seemed to dive into uncertainty both for the world at large and in my own personal realm. Many questions abounded, including wondering if we were even going to be able to operate this season. And as an organization that centers around getting people together, I was understandably a bit…

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October 21, 2020

Announcement: New Online Kayak Coaching Series

Have you ever watched a kayak video and thought, “I wish I could ask that amazing paddler how they do that [insert stroke/move/trick here]” Sometimes when you get off the water, do you wonder, “Why do I keep flipping in that [insert feature here]? It would great if I could just ask an expert.” Are…

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April 13, 2020

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: Canyons River Company

In December 2017, when Anna Levesque of Mind Body Paddle called us to inquire about collaborating on a multi-day women’s trip in Idaho with Canyons River Company, without hesitation, the answer was a resounding… HECK YES! Cali Collective is founded on creating community and connection, and one of the fantastic perks of this is being…

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April 6, 2020

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: Sundance Kayak School

After Cali Collective’s first 2-Day Women’s Whitewater Kayaking Clinic on the South Fork American in 2015, we asked our students for their feedback… “Two days just isn’t long enough!” was the overwhelming consensus. So… Chief Instigator, Melissa DeMarie, contacted an old paddling friend from her boating days on the California North Coast, J.R. Weir, who…

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February 28, 2020

Building Confidence & Community

Cali Collective Chief Instigator, Melissa DeMarie, chats about the origins of Cali Collective in this video produced by Duncan Mine, a northern California production company. Thanks to Scotty Blankenfeld, Robby Hogg and Andres Silva for their awesome work. Enjoy! All words and images copyright California Women’s Watersport Collective 2019. All rights reserved.

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October 7, 2019

The River Spoke to Me

How often have you been in a situation where you had this thought “I didn’t even think about it, I just did it and it worked out perfectly?” As human beings we often forget that instincts are equally as important as process thinking. Instincts are deep within us and come from a place that is in the absence of explanation. Because of this, we logically want to analyze it and rationalize how we were able to make a decision based on an internal voice. Instincts come out in an action that we make without much thinking at all. Sometimes these instincts launch from knowledge we are in the process of obtaining and sometimes they are from a deeper place, one of natural human intuitions. Either one can be intimidating to trust but the less we fight it the stronger and…

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July 17, 2019

Out Living It! First Descents & Cali Collective

There’s not much that can get me out of bed before 6am on a weekend. But in early September, I leapt out of bed before my alarm went off at 5:30. This was going to be the best weekend of the year! I was heading up to the South Fork of the American River to…

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October 23, 2018

Women’s Movement Takes to the Water

    When Melissa DeMarie found herself side-lined with a shoulder injury four years ago, her dream of getting more women on the water finally found the right time to come alive. She founded California Women’s Watersport Collective and kicked it off on a shoe string budget with a few meet-up paddles and one weekend clinic for women’s kayaking on the South Fork American River. Once the first clinic’s registration overflowed onto a waiting list and people starting asking what else was available there was no turning back. Instigator, Melissa DeMarie. Photo: Adam Walker Since then, CWWC (aka Cali Collective) has gone from a few women with big ideas to an inspiring all-inclusive community on and off the water. A woman’s experience of the world is different from men’s and that holds true on the water. The way women face…

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May 31, 2018

Paddling Preparation: A Land Session

We don’t often think about having a formal regimen to warm up for a day of paddling. I know mine often consists of a practice roll and then paddling a few strokes in order to peel out of the eddy. In reality, a lot of our warm up happens on the river. For newer paddlers,…

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June 14, 2017

Determination Personified: Heather Snow

In the second edition of our Paddler Profile series, Grand Canyon guide, kayaker, teacher, and dedicated yogi, Heather Snow shares her experiences of life on the river, and how to stay strong in the face of adversity. Heather’s life on the water began at age 13 with her first river trip. From there, she spent her high school summers rowing boats down the Klamath river on the California-Oregon border, working for her mother’s rafting company. Heather moved on to work on various wild rivers throughout the U.S. and abroad. In 1999, she competed in the Camel Challenge international rafting competition in South Africa with the U.S. Women’s Raft Team. As a kayaker, she’s rallied the steep creeks in the Sierras to the big water jungle rivers of Ecuador. Zero-60, Hospital Rock, Kaweah river California Photo: Barry Tessman These days, it’s common…

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June 11, 2015